Inspiring stories The Red Carpet

Inspiring Stories A Life Interrupted

inspiring stories of hope

Inspiring stories motivate me. I am always impressed by people who hang in there, and don’t give up, no matter what life throws at them. It is as if they stand, feet apart, hands on their hips, chin up and look Life straight in the eye, asking, “Come on, what is next? I can take it, I am a survivor”

Today, I have an incredible story to share with you. A positive, uplifting story about overcoming a major illness – pleural mesothelioma.  This is the story of a brave family which survived the unexpected ordeals they encountered. I could completely identify with this as I have been in a similar situation as a caregiver.

I requested Cameron Von St.James, my friend, to share his story of how he defied the odds in his own words.

Inspiring stories – A Life Interrupted

How I Went From Spouse to Caregiver

You never realize how easy it is for life to shift in an instant until it happens to you. It was our best summer ever. My beautiful wife had just given birth to a perfect, squirming bundle of joy. Lily was our first child and we were so excited about beginning a new chapter in our lives as parents.

On November 21, 2005 our lives were turned upside down with a few simple words. My wife, Heather, was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The diagnosis put Heather into a state of shock. She was frozen. Suddenly our roles changed. I had to be strong for her and make the tough decisions that she didn’t have the strength to face. My wife, who had been so strong giving birth to our daughter three months earlier, suddenly needed me to step in as her caregiver.

Nothing can prepare you for the role of a caregiver to a sick patient. It requires a different kind of strength from what was necessary in our daily roles as parents, employees and partners. The full time jobs we held prior to the diagnosis had to be abandoned. Heather quit her job and I dropped down to part time in order to accommodate her care.

The first of many decisions I helped make with Heather was to receive treatment from Dr. David Sugarbaker of Boston. He specialized in mesothelioma and was experienced in treating cases similar to Heather’s. The location of his practice put additional pressure on an already overwhelming schedule. I was responsible for arranging travel, booking hotels and caring for Lily. My life became a juggling act of shuttling between work, cancer treatments with Heather and all the commitments that come with having an infant daughter.

Being a caregiver to my wife completely removed us from our normal interactions. Before the cancer our relationship was all about sharing responsibilities, leaning on each other and compromise. After the diagnosis, I had to be strong enough for both of us. I had to take on all responsibilities and present a calm demeanor to my wife. I needed to show her strength and calm so that she could use all her energy to fight the cancer. Keeping up appearances of a positive attitude around Heather while fears of her death and possible financial ruin lurked in my mind is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Many times out of sight of Heather and Lily I would break down with uncontrollable sobs.

However, I learned to cope in time. I learned to lean on the loving people around us, and accept their generous offers of help. My strongest advice to any caregiver out there is to accept every offer of help you receive, big or small. Every offer of help is one less responsibility for you to worry about, and above all else it will serve as a reminder that you are not alone in this fight.

Seven years later

Inspiring stories of hope

Cameron Von St.James, Heather and Lily

Seven years later, I am happy to say my little family has never been better. After grueling mesothelioma treatment, Heather is cancer free, and Lily is a healthy little girl. The trials I went through only made me a stronger person for my family. I realized that I needed to be sure our future was secure.

I enrolled in an Information Technology program at a great school. Balancing my studies and work seemed like a breeze after what I had recently been through. I graduated with high honors and was asked to speak at my ceremony. As I delivered my speech, my eyes misted up thinking of everything I had been through to get to this stage.

Being a caregiver was the hardest challenge I’ve ever faced, but it was also the most rewarding. If you find yourself in a situation like mine, remember to never give up hope, and always keep fighting for the ones you love. You may find that you are capable of accomplishing more than you ever imagined was possible.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, Cameron.

Cameron recently participated in a short video about his wife’s cancer experience, which they hope to use to raise awareness and support for people fighting illness, and the caregivers who fight alongside them. Here is the link to the video: www.mesothelioma.com/heather

Inspiring happiness

Life will throw unexpected challenges. Sometimes things seem hopeless.

But I’ve often found that when we are ready to face these challenges, we come out stronger than ever before.

Did you enjoy reading this story?

Do you find motivation through inspiring stories?

Do you have a story to share?

Please let me know in the comments or

email me at vidya at vidyasury dot com

Thank you.

Never give up hope!

Inspiration

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40 Comments

  • Reply
    richa singh
    July 4, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Wow Vidya I had tears by the time I came to the photograph. Looking at the happy couple and child and then remembering the ordeal they had to go through made very warm from inside. Truly there is no right substitute for great human spirit 🙂
    richa singh recently posted…“Change my name? Me Never!”- Part 2My Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      July 4, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      Thanks Richa! I felt wonderful to see their photos too! 🙂 No substitute for great human spirit and perseverance.

  • Reply
    Afshan
    July 4, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    This is indeed motivating.
    We often think only of the patient but the companions who suffer more come to mind only later !
    My applause to Cameron for fighting along with his wife
    My blessings with their family !

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      July 4, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      Thank you, Afshan! I was so moved by Cameron’s story I requested him to write about it. The caregiver usually gets the brunt of it, without being noticed!

  • Reply
    Privy Trifles
    July 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Yes this one surely inspired me a lot Vidya… you know I have always felt that LIFE is the biggest teacher…and such inspiring stories make it seem so right!!!

    🙂
    Privy Trifles recently posted…Metro Diaries – Love beyond words ~2My Profile

  • Reply
    Suzy
    July 4, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    It never ceases to amaze me how much strength we get in testing times. Glad to hear that all worked out well in the end.
    Suzy recently posted…The Time TravellerMy Profile

  • Reply
    Julie Barrett
    July 4, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Hi Vidya, My Dad had to do this for my Mom who had MS (although they did not know for 25 years what was really wrong). I am so glad that this family is sharing their experience because what seems to happen is people go into shock and feel so lost as to how they can possibly navigate what is before them.
    Julie Barrett recently posted…The Invisible Post About Poop, Pee, Mothers, and BreakdownsMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      July 7, 2013 at 8:20 am

      It is true, Julie – when the diagnosis comes,shock is the first reaction. And then, the hospital, doctors – they put the patient through a slew of tests that are overwhelming for the whole family. We don’t know what hit us and then, we get so embroiled in caregiving and managing all the other parts of life that won’t go away, that it is easy to get dragged down and not look for the good parts. In India, especially, patient education is severely lacking. The doctors act like they’re superior and do not encourage questions. Hats off to your Dad. Hugs!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Herbs and Spices – Treat to the taste budsMy Profile

  • Reply
    Jodi @ Heal Now
    July 4, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    A beauitful relationship. These kind of times can teach us so much. A call to service is a worthly call if we accept with a willing yes!
    Jodi recently posted…Healing Is A Shift In PerspectiveMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      July 7, 2013 at 8:24 am

      Yes, Jodi! I had the privilege of being my Mother’s caregiver and was blessed with her presence for 12 years when the doctors did not expect more than 6 months to a year.

      Thank you!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Happiness HotspotsMy Profile

  • Reply
    richmiraclefiles
    July 4, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Thanks Vidya,
    Your post is a clarion call for all those walking the labyrinthine alleys of life searching for a lasting peaceful state.There never is a final state of eternal equilibrium,when you’re breathing, other than the gift,the skill of handling deftly what life offers you.
    Your responses declare to you and to life whether you are on the road to mastery or needless misery.Challenges are the litmus test of your cherished principals.Only,this time you are to practice them instead of merely articulating glibly.
    This is a real life story that shows god lives amongst us especially when we don the mantle of diligence and determination.

    Thanks for a great post.
    love your spirit behind the post
    thanks
    Mona
    richmiraclefiles recently posted…COMMIT YOURSELF TO WORK IF YOU’RE SERIOUS ABOUT PROGRESSMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      July 7, 2013 at 8:26 am

      I like your reference to the litmus test – the acid test shows our true colors, Mona. Thank you for your beautiful comment! Hugs! Real life stories of love and faith are truly motivating.
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Inspiring Stories A Life InterruptedMy Profile

  • Reply
    Mary Stephenson
    July 5, 2013 at 1:18 am

    Hi Vidya

    What a truly inspiring story. It seems we never really change until we absolutely have no choice and then we can be more than what we ever thought possible.

    It is so true, only through hardships do we grow. When life is fine we never have much desire to progress to what we really could be capable of.

    Thank you for sharing their story.

    Mary
    Mary Stephenson recently posted…Contemplating The Power of FearMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      July 7, 2013 at 8:28 am

      It is true we grow when we are challenged, Mary. We never know what we’re capable of until we’re pushed to our limits. I’ve personally found hardships motivating – as they’ve turned into major life lessons.

      Thank you for your presence. Hugs!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Inspiring Stories A Life InterruptedMy Profile

  • Reply
    G Angela
    July 5, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    what a Beautiful story vidya ! thanks for sharing, I loved this post.

  • Reply
    Anyta
    July 5, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    The courage and love shown by this remarkable family make me pause before I become despondent about my own challenges.
    I wish you happiness and a wonderful future together, every step of the way.

  • Reply
    Ken Wert@MeanttobeHappy
    July 5, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Truly Inspiring, Vidya! Such times test us, for sure. But they also reveal what beats inside. There are some who deal with the stress and pain by running from it, abandoning their families. Others step up to the plate and show us how to step through the fear and love with all their hearts. We need these examples to strengthen us when our turn to face difficult trials arrive.
    Ken Wert recently posted…How to Set Your Life on Fire (the key to living a meaningful life)My Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      July 7, 2013 at 8:34 am

      Yes, Ken! I’ve had the privilege of being my Grandmother’s and Mother’s caregiver for several years and have truly benefited from the experience – from their wisdom, their ability to stay cheerful no matter what – and realizing my own strengths. I know that nothing is greater than close relationships in life – in family and with friends.

      When I read stories like these, I have the pleasant experience of finding that my own troubles diminish in size in the face of what that family went through. Gives a great sense of perspective.

      Thank you, Ken. Hugs!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Inspiring Stories A Life InterruptedMy Profile

  • Reply
    vanita
    July 6, 2013 at 12:47 am

    i cried. truly i did. Cameron hugs to you and your family. So happy you’re all healthy. Vidya, my dearest creep sister, you could have warn me this story would make me cry.
    vanita recently posted…Fighting Your Blogging VoiceMy Profile

  • Reply
    Roshni
    July 6, 2013 at 1:56 am

    Cameron has every right to feel enormous pride in the way he dealt with the situation! His family is lucky to have such an amazing caregiver and support person!
    Thank you so much, Vidya, for featuring them!
    Roshni recently posted…Embracing diversity – what’s in a name?My Profile

  • Reply
    Christy Garrett
    July 6, 2013 at 3:07 am

    I love reading inspiring stories. I find that inspiring stories can help give others hope when they find themselves in a similar situation.
    Christy Garrett recently posted…9 Interesting Facts About Human Trafficking – Protect Your Children TodayMy Profile

  • Reply
    Elle
    July 6, 2013 at 6:12 am

    Keeping hope alive…wonderfully inspiring. Thanks and continued blessings to all.
    Elle recently posted…Why Awareness Should Be Your New Best FriendMy Profile

  • Reply
    preetilata
    July 6, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    The greatness of this post can never be expressed or measured in words. My respect to the whole family and i proudly bow to them. More power to them.

    Thanks for inspiring and motivating us too by sharing this wonderful wonderful true story with us.
    preetilata recently posted…Firefly.My Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      July 7, 2013 at 8:40 am

      That’s what I thought when I read Cameron’s story, Preetilata. Words do not always do justice to the intensity of some feelings. My heart sang to know that this family conquered the odds. Hugs and thanks for commenting!

      Loved your “firefly” post!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Inspiring Stories A Life InterruptedMy Profile

  • Reply
    ruchira
    July 7, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Awesome ending to this beautiful and brave story!

    Such struggles make the family strong inside and out! Kuddos to Cameron and wishing him and his lovely family the best of everything!

    Thanks Vidya for showcasing a wonderful story!
    ruchira recently posted…Wonderful WednesdayMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      July 7, 2013 at 8:41 am

      Thank you, Ruchira! I am honored to share Cameron’s story! So inspiring.
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Happy DaysMy Profile

  • Reply
    Betsy/Zen Mama
    July 8, 2013 at 4:53 am

    Very moving! Thanks for sharing Vidya!
    Betsy/Zen Mama recently posted…Simplifying At My Own Walden PondMy Profile

  • Reply
    Custom Cakes in Pune
    July 9, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Really i had tears in my eyes, very inspiring story.

  • Reply
    Damyanti
    July 12, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    This is such an inspiring post. Thank you.
    Damyanti recently posted…@MarianAllen Introduces You to Comedy Star Connie PhelanMy Profile

  • Reply
    Freya
    August 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story Cameron, it gives so much hope and courage. All the best to Heather, Lily and you. 🙂

    Vidya, due credit to you for hosting Cameron and letting us hear his story. As always, you go gal 🙂
    Freya recently posted…Book Review: Once Upon a Prince by Rachel HauckMy Profile

  • Reply
    Christopher James
    August 4, 2013 at 10:12 am

    That’s a very inspiring story.. Never give up.. Never surrender…:’)

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